The whole controversy was triggered by a 47-minute documentary film that features several retired Russian generals accusing Medvedev of "indecision" and "dithering" at the outset of the war, until he received "a kick in the pants" from Putin. The film, entitled "A Lost Day," has only been seen on the Internet, and Putin denies even having seen it.
In the film, General Yury Baluyevsky – who was fired by Medvedev as military chief of staff two months before the war – claimed that Medvedev and his advisers were "afraid to give the command" to intervene against Georgia's offensive in South Ossetia until Putin convinced them to move.
Despite Georgian claims that Russia started the war, the chronological record clearly shows that Georgian forces assaulted Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, during the night of Aug. 7, and the Russian 58th Army poured into the embattled region about 20 hours later.
But the dispute over who made the key decisions on the Russian side may now herald a fresh power struggle at the summit of Kremlin power.
Speaking to journalists during a Moscow visit of Armenia's president on Wednesday, Putin was explicit both about not having seen the controversial documentary, and also that he had definitely called Medvedev at the beginning of the Georgian attack.
"As far as telephone calls are concerned, yes, I called Dmitry Medvedev twice, on August 7 and August 8 , as well as the defense minister, and we talked about the problem," Putin said.